Contemporary history of things
Completed research project
Funded by the VolkswagenStiftung as a Part of "Forschung in Museen"
Curators in museums of cultural history consider material culture of everyday life as difficult to handle, because they contain a broad range of artefacts. In German historiography, mundane objects have not yet been considered as a source for research and academic debate. For this reason, the project aimed to bring together perspectives of museum work and research into contemporary history. The complex collections of the Documentation Centre for Everyday Culture in the GDR was explored in order to provide new perspectives for contemporary history and at the same time develop the quality of the museum’s collection documentation. An interdisciplinary group of co-operating researchers from different fields and museums were set up to implement multi-disciplined expertise, whilst external scholars are invited to participate with exemplary micro studies within the collections of the Documentation Centre. The objects preserved are interpreted as material representations within the framework of a social memory concerning the GDR and post-war Germany. There are two particular projects planned: one examined the collection with a focus on ‘political objects’ asking for their direct and indirect meaning to represent politics and power. The second study enquired into the meaning of objects in social history and focus especially on distinction materialised in objects in contrast to the official socialist way of life (‘sozialistische Lebensweise’) and its equipment. Via the close inspection of exemplary objects within the museum’s collections, we aimed to adopt a theoretical and methodological perspective within a wider historiographical context, which we hope might subsequently be adopted in museum work.
Andreas Ludwig published the research results of his project in:
Andreas Ludwig (Hg.): Zeitgeschichte der Dinge. Spurensuchen in der materiellen Kultur der DDR, Köln 2019.
Dr. Andreas Ludwig
Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History
Am Neuen Markt 1
Office: Am Neuen Markt 1, room 2.30
Email: ludwig [at] zzf-potsdam.de